4 post-conference activities that you can’t ignore

This article is the final of four articles looking at how to extract the most value from attending a conference, either as a small business or a big corporate.

Part 1 - Making the most of conferences (or, how to blow thousands of dollars and waste lots of time and effort for not much return)

Part 2 - Conferences stands and sponsorship (or, how to REALLY waste mega bucks)

Part 3 – it’s crunch time, you’re at the conference!

This week, we look at the sadly often forgotten, but vital, post conference follow-up. Yes, conference attendance is exhausting and there’s always a mountain of work piled on your desk waiting for your return, but failing to follow-up means failing to capitalise on all your hard work so far. Here’s what you should be doing:

1 – putting all those leads into your CRM. Obvious right? But it takes time, and you’re too busy, and you’re not sure how good they were in the end, and you’re too busy, and can’t someone else just do it, you’re too busy, and what does it matter if you wait until you’ve got all your other work back under control, etc, etc etc.

Well, truth is, you’ve met a whole lot of new people, and now you have to start working those relationships. Without those contacts in your CRM, you won’t be including them on your next newsletter, you won’t be following them up, and you won’t be including them in your sales process.

The good news is adding them to your CRM is now easier than ever - download a business card reading app and then use Zapier to push the records into your CRM. Easy, fast, and cheap.

2 – send personal emails to anyone you met that you would like to do business with. Thank them for their time, reiterate what your business does and progress the conversation. It’s common to meet people at conferences and only have 30 seconds to chat, so make sure you follow up and organise that coffee while you still remember what each other looks like!

3 – include a roundup of the conference in your next newsletter (which will now include all your new contacts because you’ve loaded them into your CRM haven’t you…) Everyone loves to hear about new ideas, new books to read, new people to follow on twitter. This way your newsletter will be adding value to your contacts. Of course, if you want to get REALLY tricky, then you will split your database into new contacts vs everyone else and do two tailored newsletters. It’s a bit more work, but does yield better results.

And while we’re talking newsletters, here’s a neat trick. A week after you’ve sent out your newsletter, resend it to everyone who didn’t open it the first time. Try a different headline and you’ll often find that you’ll get about half the open rate of the first email (often just because people are busy and didn’t have time to open the first one). So say you send your newsletter to 1,000 people and 250 open the newsletter – a 25% open rate. A week later, send it to the 750 that didn’t open it. With  half your original open rate (12.5%),  you could expect about  94 people to open the second version. That’s an extra 94 people reading your newsletter, for about 15 minutes additional work, which is a pretty solid return on investment in my books.

4 – if you had a stand, sort out the boxes of flyers, pens and left over giveaways. Check that the banners are all still in good condition and get them fixed if they aren’t – nothing is worse than pulling them out for your next event and finding them broken! Hopefully the giveaways you organised can be given out at future conferences, or put to use some other way. Don’t just leave everything lying around for ‘later’, because believe me, going through all those boxes 3 years down the track is a painful experience. Ask me how I know…

So there you have it, the Mayflower quick guide to making conferences a quality investment for your business, from start to finish.

Next week, just in time for the 2016 SMSF Association National Conference, I am considering a write-up of all the worst behaviour that I’ve seen at conferences over the years. But only if there’s enough demand from you, dear readers…

PS: not convinced that your business is capitalising on the investment you’re making in conferences? Give us a call, we’d love to help.